Why Crowded Coffee Shops Fire Up Your Creativity

Caffeine helps, but it turns out moderate noise levels also help to fire up the neurons.

Compared to a relatively quiet environment (50 decibels), a moderate level of ambient noise (70 dB) enhanced subjects’ performance on the creativity tasks, while a high level of noise (85 dB) hurt it. Modest background noise, the scientists explain, creates enough of a distraction to encourage people to think more imaginatively. (Here’s a helpful chart on typical noise levels.)

The full study, “Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition,” was published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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